Elf-Boy and Friends
Chapter 1. Elf-boy and Unicorn
As thunder rumbled on the western horizon, the elf-boy stopped weeding the kitchen garden and straightened up -- as much as his diminutive stature allowed. From a kneeling position the nude youth turned his pretty face to the sky and wondered whether the growling to the west meant that the spring rains had finally arrived. The dry fields and pastures of his home valley really needed several days of soaking rain. This hot and dry spell they were going through threatened to scorch the whole country.
The elf-boy could do with a good soaking rain himself to cool himself off and to flush away the sweat, salt, and dust from his sun-bronzed skin. That would be more welcome than his usual evening shower with soap and water heated by the sun. The elves placed a high value on cleanliness and personal hygiene.
Whatever the practicalities of it, the elf-boy would rather stand out in the open fully exposed and let cool rain sluice all over him. How wonderful that always felt, to turn his face upwards, eyes closed, as the falling waters plastered his raven locks to his head. He took pleasure in the flow of the life-giving waters over his slender young body cleansing and cooling him and touching his body everywhere at once like a lover with a hundred hands. Rain was a gift of nature, one to which he willingly opened himself every chance he got.
The boy had no concern about getting caught out in the rain since he never bothered with clothing, spending his days perpetually nude as did all young males among the elves. "Skin clad" they called it. And though perpetual nudity made him careful of thorns and thistles, the boy had no worries about insect bites or stings. The gods or wizards who had brought humans and elves and the other races to this planetary refuge aptly named Haven had deliberately not brought along any of the stinging, biting, or just plain verminous bugs that had infested the environmentally depleted, war torn, and worn-out worlds from which they had fled.
They did allow good bugs -- pollinating insects like honey bees and butterflies -- but no bloodsucking mosquitos, no biting horse flies, no yellow jackets or fire ants or poisonous spiders either.
After a disappointed glance at the sky as the last rumble of thunder faded without result, the elf-boy bent to his mundane tasks, once again engrossed in the satisfying work of tending to growing things: planting, hoeing, weeding, pruning, staking, and watering. Everything thrived under his care. It was no coincidence that his own large slightly slanted eyes were the same green as growing things. Like most sentients on the planet he had a modest magical gift, which in his case was a Green Thumb. No wonder he got such good results.
The elf-boy did not mind getting down and dirty with the reddish brown soil in those parts, sinking to the earth on hands and knees. So what if his knees and feet and hands got soiled or dust settled on his sweaty flanks and chest and back or streaked his face. It was top soil, good earth, the perfect medium for growing things. Top soil had a clean pleasant smell to it which brought him closer to the land, a sensuous connection to this planet of Haven.
He much preferred tending the earth than tending to livestock. Farm animals were messy and smelly and often had contrary personalities. He let his older brothers take care of the milch cow, the goats and the sheep, and the ducks. Mostly vegetarians, elves raised animals only for their milk and fiber and eggs, never their flesh, though elves would eat fish.
Engrossed in his gardening, the youth was startled when he heard a voice in his head, without a sound reaching his ears.
<Ho there, elf-boy!>
"What?" he exclaimed out loud, never having experienced mind speech before. Still Dahl was more curious than apprehensive. He knew that several races could speak mind to mind. That was especially true of humans who were gifted as druids and healers, though the gift was rare among elves.
<Get to your feet, little one, and come over to the large oak next to the hedgerow. I would have converse with thee.>
Apprehensive but curious about what kind of being could call to him mentally, he walked over to the big oak, ignoring the gravel and grit under his bare feet. Elf-boys develop thick calluses that protect them nearly as well as moccasins.
By the hedgerow he found a horse of noble lines waiting for him, one with a brilliant white coat and green eyes. Once it stepped out of the shadows he could see the long spiral horn growing out of its forehead, the weight counterbalanced by a rearward bulge of the skull to house a large brain. This was no horse then but that rarest of equines, a unicorn. A stallion the size of a light riding horse, it stood sixteen hands at the withers, a full hand higher than the crown of the diminutive elf-boy's head. By reputation peaceable though fearsome fighters when provoked, the unicorn more stirred the boy's curiosity than his apprehension.
"Sir Unicorn," for such the elf-boy deemed it wise to address so noble a creature. "What would you have of me? Shall I fetch my father? He is the master of these lands."
<Nay, little one, for it is with you I wish to speak. You are the elf-boy I was sent to find, the one I sensed from afar as I approached this place. You must be the one I have sought, though with that long black hair of yours I cannot see the pointed ears characteristic of elves, and you are quite short for an elf.>
"Well, I am indeed an elf, Sir Unicorn, though a very young one and small in stature for my years. I have just sixteen summers" he said, sweeping his hair back to let the equine see the pointed ears characteristic of elves, ears that elves could actually cock toward a sound, like cats only not so flexible.
"My name is Dahlderon, though everyone just calls me Dahl."
<Yes, Dahlderon, the very person I was sent to seek out. And I am named Meirionnydd, but you may call me Merry, as I shall call you Dahl. Here, step into full sunlight that I may see you better.>
Dahl complied as the unicorn, standing as straight and tall as his height of five feet one allowed. The elf-boy was proud of the trim and taut body he had so recently grown into. Nor was he embarrassed to display the manly parts which gave him so much pleasure these days.
Dahl had a beautiful body, slender yet muscular, tanned, taut and toned with good shoulders, a ripped torso with corrugated abdominals, a flat belly and narrow hips. He had one of those impossibly small waists you could almost put your hands around which flared to a pert rump, with small but firm and shapely buns. No hair interrupted the flow of his faultless lines. Elves never grew body hair, even at the fork of the legs, and were beardless all their lives.
The unicorn could see that the boy was a treasure. From his tiny red nipples to a deeply indented navel, to narrow hips framing a surprisingly ample manhood for one so slight in build, he was real beauty. His wiry physique carried so little body fat that his flat belly showed a tracery of downward pointing veins just under the skin. The beat of his heart showed on the left side of his chest.
<If you please, turn around slowly that I may see all of you, Dahl.>
The elf-boy complied, glad for a chance to show off the rest of his beautiful body. He knew he had a fine round rump. Everyone told him as much. The truth is the boy was a natural exhibitionist.
From the rear, Dahl was all curves: the calves, the thighs, the globes of the buttocks, the swale of the lower back, the slope up to the shoulder blades which formed winglets on his upper back. He had a fine coltish build on him with legs that were strong though slender. The unicorn knew that elves were good runners. It was a much as part of them as of any antelope or equine for that matter. It was one of the things that had always bonded unicorns to elf-boys.
<Yes, I see the druids have chosen well, young Dahlderon. Physical beauty like yours if always an outward sign of good bloodlines and a healthy constitution. Know then that you will accompany me to the Great Southern Forest to begin your training, you and the others like you. My task is to help you brave the dangers that no doubt will arise during the long journey.>
"Chosen? Druids? Great Forest? What do you mean. I am not going anywhere!" the boy exclaimed.
Actually the thought of travel and high adventure intrigued him. Every boy's dream, it would be like the tales the bards sang of. One day they might sing his song too. What else did he have to look forward to at home but daily drudgery and endless mountings by his father and older brothers plus the human friends they passed him along to. Still he had responsibilities and told the unicorn as much.
<Ah but you must come with me, little elf-boy, else the Haven we know will be destroyed. Your training as a druid must start soon. Come let us away.>
"But… but… I cannot take off just like that with ... with... the first unicorn that comes along." he finished lamely.
He was trying out excuses more to convince himself than to dissuade the insistent unicorn.
"Besides, my father and brothers would never let me just run off." he added.
<Which is why you must do just that, without telling them, for they would not willingly let you take off with me. They would lose your services both in the fields and in their beds. And your father doubtless knows what is likely to happen between a youth and a unicorn.>
"What does happen? I think I have a right to know if you expect me to go traipsing off with you into parts unknown."
<In the Great Forest you will be apprenticed to the druids, one of a company of young males of your race and of other races trained to use your powers for good. In time you will be transformed from an ordinary elf-boy to a powerful earth druid with magical powers to command the natural world.>
"Powers? What powers? I am just an elf, not a wielder of magic. My only magical gift is a green thumb."
<That is true, right now. You are correct that almost everyone has only a single magical gift, sufficient to kindle a fire or to light their way in the dark or find their way without getting lost. Unicorns and elves are different. We are magical creatures in and of ourselves. It was magic that brought us into existence and magic which sustains us during our long lives. Which is why elves may live for centuries and unicorns, while unicorns go on till something stops us.>
<Don't worry that, young and small as you are that you do not fit the stereotype of a druid in the stories the bards tell. Actually I have never met a druid who really did fit the description: a tall man of stern mien and with a piercing gaze and grey beard. Druids come in all sizes and races, but they are perpetually youthful, so they don't have a single strand of gray between them. As to what you can expect for yourself, outwardly and physically you will look much the same as you do now, an intensely comely young elf. One change you can expect is that your head of hair will grow out to resemble the long mane of the equines.>
"No offense, Merry, why would a boy want to grow a long mane? With my tousled locks I look girlish enough as it is, as so many have remarked as they use me as their girly boy to gratify their carnal desires."
<You have entirely the wrong idea about a mane. I am a stallion and very much a male. Does my mane make me look like a filly? Or consider the proud mane of the lyon. No, there is nothing feminine about a mane at all. I daresay you will come to appreciate it when yours grows out. It will look sensuous when the wind whips it about or makes it stream back as you run. But if you insist, you could put your mane up in a -- you should pardon the expression -- a pony tail.>
"Ha, I know what my father would say to that. An elf-boy with a pony tail dangling behind! But seriously, how shall I equip myself for such a journey? What of tools or weapons or money? Will I have to wear clothing like many humans do?"
<A druid uses no weapons of metal, certainly not of blades of cold iron nor of steel to shed blood. As for clothing, you will have no more need for it in the future than you have had in the past. We shall be heading to torrid zone of the planet. You will find the Great Forest is a sweltering jungle, much hotter than this sub-tropical valley. Besides, since when are elves body shy. Elf-boys do not wear any clothing before they pass their tests. Your kind spends the first century of life entirely naked. Even for most elven adults a thong or loincloth are only optional and often dispensed with. It is one of the things that brings your race close to nature. I understand that perfectly. We are both naked creatures, are we not, living just as nature made us?>
<As for food and shelter, we will live off the country, sharing nature's bounty. I can graze in the meadows and you can gather birds eggs, starchy tubers, fruits, nuts, and such. We will often sleep under the stars or in a bower for shelter. As for what nature does not provide, we can find accommodations at inns along the way. To pay for such we will earn such coin as we might need in ways I will suggest to you.>
"Then I must take off from my only home just as I stand here now, empty handed, penniless, defenseless, and stark naked?"
<Indeed, that would be for the best.>
"Well at least I will get to ride a unicorn!"
<Hardly boy. Disabuse yourself of that notion right away. I am not carrying you on my back, slight though the burden of your weight would be. Instead you will walk or run beside me, alternating the pace to cover ground quicker. That should improve your wind and your endurance. If there is any mounting to be done, it is I who shall do it to you.>
Did Merry's last remark really mean that a creature fully eight times larger intended to mount him? He shook his head, rejecting the impossible image that had formed in his mind's eye, an alarming vision of a small elf-boy bent over, covered, and bred like a filly by the powerful stallion.
Despite his alarm, Dahl went off with the magical being. He knew no one would question or stop him, especially in the company of a unicorn. On Valentia travel was unrestricted. No one needed permission or papers to cross borders. For the most part, there were no check points or customs stations on the unmarked frontiers of the different states.
Dahl sent a letter to his father from the first village they passed through. I was only several years later that his family learned of the achievements of the druid Dahlderon.
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